Nicanor Castillo Marasigan
5/8/1890 - 1/10/1970
Written by his wife, Petra Evangelista Marasigan
September 19, 1982
The Family Man
The road and the bridge were still freshly built when Nicanor married Petra Evangelista, his classmate in school. It was January, 1914. Their wedding sponsor was his uncle and councilor Casimiro. It was the first time a horse-driven carriage was used from Inicbulan to Bauan for the church wedding. After the wedding, the bride and groom settled in Inicbulan. Nicanor promised his wife that their first son would be raised to be a lawyer. Their wish came true. Their first born was a boy and was named Eliodoro who became a lawyer, a fiscal in Manila, and eventually a judge of the Court of First Instance. He would have risen higher in his career if he did not resign from office to settle in America following the declaration of martial law in the Philippines.
The other children were Nemesio, Pilar, Esteban and Ismael.
Nemesio became a mechanical engineer and the manager of a pump manufacturing company. (He eventually became the president and part owner of another pump company before he retired from work.) Pilar became a school teacher and retired as principal of Inicbulan elementary and high schools. Esteban became a medical doctor and director of Brent Hospital in Zamboanga. (He later became the president of the Zamboanga Medical Society, then councilor for western Mindanao district, then vice-president of the PMA.) The youngest son, Ismael, became a mechanical engineer and was quickly climbing the ladder of the corporate world when he had an accident and died at the young age of 30.
Eliodoro was born on November 21, 1915 during a stormy day. The typhoon was so strong that the school building was completely destroyed. Nicanor considered this catastrophe not as a setback but as an opportunity to build a better school building. There was a law at the time that any school built on a lot one hectare or bigger will be furnished by the government with a 'Gabaldon-type' structure. So, Nicanor approached the people of the three barrios of Inicbulan, Rizal and Durungao for contributions to buy a hectare piece of land between Inicbulan and Rizal (where the present school now stands. Nicanor added Durungao to his domain because many children there were enrolled in the school). The people responded well and the land was bought. The sad part was the government reneged on the promise to build the school.
That did not dampen Nicanorís spirit. He again rallied the people to help him build the school from their own pockets and with their own hands. They did so and the school building with three classrooms was finished in no time.
More students started enrolling and some were coming from other distant barrios. It was too overwhelming for Nicanor so he asked for teaching help. He was given Melecio M. Ilagan who became the second teacher of the school. (Melecio eventually married Nicanorís younger sister Maria.) Melecio did not teach very long. He went to Manila to pursue his education and he stayed with Don. Teodoro R. Yangco. He was also working at the U.P. College of Medicine while getting his education.
Venancio Ilagan replaced Melecio as teacher to help Nicanor but a few years later he died. Two more teachers from Bauan were sent to help Nicanor - Isabel Macarandang and Anatolia Castillo. (Anatolia became the wife of Demetrio Ilagan, younger brother of Melecio. Their children were: Teodoro who became the barrio captain; Teodorica I. Evangelista who was a high school teacher and wife of another teacher and sportís coach, Paterio Evangelista; Teodora who became an engineer; and Eustaquio, the architect and a colonel in the army who married Erlinda Magalong-Ilagan, also an architect. These two architects would later design the school building which was built in 1957.)
The progress of the barrios and the school was slow and it had always been in Nicanorís mind to hasten the pace. Aside from teaching the people how to make toilets by digging deep holes like the way the Americans did it, he also taught them good manners by example. People at the time still ate with their bare hands so Nicanor asked Esteban Ilagan (father of Melecio, a silversmith) to make spoons and forks out of silver. He then showed the people the proper way to eat. He demonstrated how to wear decent clothes and the way to groom themselves. He also taught the people how to dispose of and convert garbage into fertilizer and how to use them in planting mango, avocado and chico trees (the tall mango trees along the school property are the remnants of the many trees he planted around the school.)
He changed some of the most ludicrous practices in the barrios, one of which was how the barrio fiesta was celebrated. People would pool their resources, turn it over to the barrio leader who would ask the 'liputados' (leaders of the church in Bauan) to bring the 'poon' (statue of Jesus on the cross) to the barrio. On Sunday, after the town mass, the 'poon' would be brought to the barrio where it would stay inside the chapel. In front of the chapel, people would celebrate by dancing a folk dance called the 'subli'. That dancing was the climax of the celebration. The 'poon' would stay in the barrio for a week moving from house to house whose owners were willing to shell out extra contribution to the church. Part of the custom was paying a man from Bauan to play a trumpet as the 'poon' was moved from house to house. There were hardly any guests, nor banquets, nor festivities in any houses except in the house of the leader of the barrio whose obligation was to feed and pay the 'liputados' from Bauan - including the man with the trumpet; all paid for by the contributions of the barrio people.
Nicanor proposed to the elders that fiestas should be celebrated for the people of Inicbulan and not for the 'liputados' of Bauan; and the festival should only be for a day and a half. It would be short but joyful. Everyone agreed.
The following May, during fiesta, the mood had changed. There was a musical band, various games ('anilio') for adult horse riders and for children, too. Young women were dressed in colorful costumes. Almost all houses had guests enjoying roasted pigs and local delicacies. It was a joyful fiesta for everyone and a huge success. Since then, the barrio fiestas were celebrated this way.
Aside from the moro horse, which he regularly rode, Nicanor bought another horse (kastanyo) which was the fastest at the time. He also bought a carriage to fit the new horse and asked his brother-in-law, Basilio, to be the 'chauffeur' of the family.
During his 12 years of teaching, he encouraged the game of baseball for girls and boys. He also sponsored other athletic and academic activities. In so doing, the school won many prizes and awards in those respective fields. He trained the students to sing and recite poems. They learned so well that they often performed in public to the delight of the people of the barrios. He taught people to unlearn the bad habits acquired from the Spaniards. Slowly, the people learned.
Nemesio was born on December 19, 1919. With Nicanorís growing family, his income as a school teacher became inadequate so he decided to resign after 12 years of teaching to become the manager of the Singer Sewing Machine Company branch that just opened in Bauan. To augment their income, his wife Petra started a home industry for the women of Inicbulan by doing embroideries. With their increased income they were able to afford to build their own house with a small variety store downstairs.
In 1922, he decided to work in Manila at Yangco Steamship Lines. He went to school at night and completed his studies in bookkeeping and stenography. In 1924, he asked the owner of the company and philanthropist, Don Teodoro R. Yangco, for help to rebuild the school in Inicbulan. To convince the Don of his honest intentions, he invited the philanthropist to come with him and see for himself the deplorable condition of the school - the one he and the people of the barrios built many years ago. To welcome the millionaire, the school teachers presented a special program for him. Upon observing the unsafe conditions of the school building, Don Yangco decided to help. He authorized the release of funds and asked Nicanor to supervise the rebuilding of the school. During construction, only first class materials were used and, when the school was finished, it was fittingly renamed the Yangco School. Because of his diligent work, Nicanor earned the trust of Don Yangco. And whenever there were any disasters in Batangas, Nicanor would be entrusted to bring relief funds to the victims, courtesy of Don Yangco.
The War, the Leader and the Sons
After 10 years working with the steamship lines, he resigned and accepted the job as a traveling salesman for the Bazar Siglo XX, a hardware company also owned by Don Yangco. He stayed there until the Second World War broke out on December 8, 1941. When Bazar Siglo XX closed down, he brought his family back to Inicbulan. At that time, his oldest son Eliodoro was a practicing lawyer and was sharing offices in Heacock building in Escolta, Manila with two of his friends and old classmates: Renato Tayag and Ferdinand E. Marcos. The law offices closed down because the three lawyers were all called for active duty. Eliodoro brought his family to Inicbulan as well. Then he went back to Manila to report for active duty. The road proved perilous. He reached Calumpang on horseback then took horse-driven carts because there was no more public transportation. Most of the bridges had already been destroyed so, when he had to cross rivers, people would carry him across. When he reached 'Paliko' river, he met the family of Miss Concepcion Tolentino (his teacher in Batangas High School) and Engineer and Mrs. Magbuhat. They were on their way to Batangas but their car couldnít make it across the destroyed bridge. So they decided to turn back to Manila and invited Eliodoro to join them in spite of being overloaded.
Eliodoro reached Manila and went directly to the tailor shop in Intramuros where his uniform was being made. To his dismay his uniform was not finished because the shop was damaged when the Japanese bombed the adjacent Santo Domingo church. When he finally got his uniform, he quickly reported to the mobilization center at FEU. He noticed at FEU that there was only one bus left and it had just been filled with soldiers ready for Bataan. Among those aboard was Fernando Poe, Sr., a famous Filipino actor. Those who were left behind were told to wait for the next bus. They waited and waited for almost a day but none came. Finally, they were told that all the bridges to Bataan had already been destroyed by the Filipino and American forces so that the Japanese wonít be able to follow them. Those who were stranded were told to disband and go home. It took him several days to reach home.
Meanwhile, the younger brother, Nemesio, made it to Bataan. He was enrolled in the College of Engineering in U.P. when he was ordered to report to the Philippine Army training camp in Lipa, Batangas. He belonged to the 41st infantry regiment of the 41st division under General Lim. They were deployed along the coast of Balayan, Batangas when General McArthur ordered them to convene in Bataan. Nemesio fought in Bataan, survived the death march and the concentration camp in Capas, Tarlac. He suffered hunger, dysentery and malaria. When the sickly prisoners were released in August, 1942, he was one of them. He recuperated at the Red Cross hospital in Bauan. When he recovered, he formed a guerilla movement in Inicbulan and Rizal to continue fighting the Japanese.
In more than three years under the Japanese occupation, Nicanor remained the elected leader of Inicbulan and Rizal because of his wise and diplomatic handling of the enemies. He was able to protect the people from the marauding Japanese soldiers who would come from the camps in Calumpang and Guintuan to demand food and supplies from the public to feed their soldiers. Nicanor had to be very clever and tactful in dealing with the Japanese because, while he danced with the enemies, his four sons were secretly active in guerilla activities.
After New Year in 1945 most of the inhabitants of Bauan had evacuated to the island of Mindoro to escape the Japanese. On February 28, 1945 those who remained in town were rounded up by the Japanese and were confined inside the church. Most of the men were incarcerated in the house of one Severino Bautista (Nieves). The soldiers then blew up the house and the church and those who tried to escape were machine-gunned. It was a complete massacre.
Everyone feared that Inicbulan and Rizal would be next.